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THE TENTH MAN

Wei Wu Wei : What is Time ?

§72

lundi 20 novembre 2017, par Cardoso de Castro

honnêteté
honestidade
honesty
honneur
honra
honradez
honor
honour
retitude
retidão

In considering the problem of ‘time’ it should be desirable to understand verstehen
entendre
comprendre
entender
compreender
comprender
understand
what people in general mean by the word Wort
mot
palavra
palabra
word
Worte
rema
parole
mot
mots
. Let me take two dualité
dyade
duality
dualidad
dualidade
dois
two
deux
examples from newspapers, one French and the other English, which happen to be in front of me. The French one refers to ‘la marche objective et inexorable du temps’. That statement appears to be a typical example of the view according to which we stand apart observing the passage of time, which appears to be objective and inexorable, i.e. a force foreign to ourselves and to events, to which we and events are all subjected. The English one states ‘It (time) is not a rolling stream — for who is standing on the bank to see it ? It is we who do the rolling, not time. And all this rolling has to be related to the chance revolutions of a solar system, for convenience . . . but for whose convenience ?’ This statement takes the opposite point of view : ‘time’ does not move at all, it is we who move through a stationary ‘time’, and it distinguishes between time as duration and time as a measurement of duration. Both are intelligent and, I think denken
pensar
penser
think
pensamento
pensée
pensamiento
thinking
, reliable examples of current attitudes towards temporality. It will be observed, however, that in both ‘time’ is regarded objectively, as some force foreign to ourselves, through which we pass or which passes through us. In both ‘we’ are seen as phenomenal individuals.

Considering the matter matière
matéria
matter
hyle
material
matériel
materialidade
matérialité
materiality
materialidad
more generally, we in the West point cardinal
points carinales
ponto cardeal
pontos cardeais
cardinal direction
cardinal directions
punto cardinal
puntos cardinales
Nord
Norte
North
Sud
Sul
South
o Este
Leste
East
Ouest
Oeste
West
regard ‘time’ as beginning in the past : we speak of ‘past, present and future’ and not ‘future, present and past’. No doubt there lies at the back of our minds the concept begreifen 
concevoir
conceber
Begriff
conceito
concept
conception
concepção
concepción
that God Gott
Dieu
Deus
God
Dios
theos
created the world at some past moment of time and that it evolves towards an unknown future, and also that each of us was born in the past and grows older towards an unknown future which we imagine that we ourselves create. In the East, on the contrary, they tend to think of the future as flowing into a present and then passing into a passed time. But we do that also on occasion, and both concepts regard time as an objective factor, foreign to ourselves, to which we and events are inexorably subjected. One may note, however, [152] that if we were in the stream of time we should not be aware that it was flowing unless we had at least one foot, so to speak, on the bank or unless observable events were stationary and untouched by the stream, which concept would separate us irrevocably from events.

It seems clear from all this that our notions of ‘time’ are vague and inconsequent to say the least.

Metaphysically, even philosophically, speaking it may now be noted that no such ‘thing’ as the ‘past’ can be said to exist otherwise than as a memory mnemosyne
memória
mémoire
memory
, always and inevitably incomplete and distorted at that, for whatever it may have been it has gone beyond recall and has never been as a ‘past’. It might have been as a ‘present’, but what is that ? Any event Ereignis
événement
acontecimento
acontecimento apropriador
acontecimiento
enowning
evento
event
that was present in a time-sequence independent of ourselves as observers, is already in the supposed ‘past’ earlier in the time Zeit
le temps
o tempo
the time
el tiempo
chronos
kala
-sequence than we could have become aware of it, since the complicated process of perception Wahrnehmung 
Vernehmen
perception
percepção
percepción
via retina, chemical cellular changes, nerve impulses, further chemical cellular changes in the brain-matter, and psychological interpretation requires a lapse of time which must result in a ‘time-lag’ whereby a subsequent ‘present’ will have appeared by the time the previous ‘present’ has been perceived and conceived. Therefore no present can be known to exist ; at most it might be maintained that an event which had once been present has subsequently been interpreted and recorded as having been observed. As for the future, we may imagine it, correctly or incorrectly, but we have no knowledge connaissance
gnosis
intuition intellectuelle
gnôsis
connaître
conhecer
gnose
knowledge
know
conocer
conocimiento
conhecimento
of it until it has become a ‘past’ which itself has been seen not to have any evidential existence Existenz
existence
exister
existentia
existência
existencia
bios
.

It does not appear, therefore, that we have any evidence evidência
évidence
evidence
evidente
evidencia
evident
for the existence of such divisions as past, present and future, or that they exist at all otherwise than as conceptual interpretations of the notion of an objective ‘time’ that ‘passes’. This conclusion is hardly original : Huang Po states that ‘the past has not gone, the future has not yet come, the present is a fleeting moment’, which may be said to imply what has just been elaborated.

May we not now just accept the conclusion of philosophers, from Heraclitus to Kant, who came to understand that no such thing as ‘time’ could have any objective existence ?

[153] Clearly it is a waste of time (this precious ‘thing’ we are dealing with !) discussing ‘time’ as an objective factor in our living, for it cannot possibly be such. If we wish to understand what it is we must look for its explanation nearer home. It must in fact be an aspect forme
eidos
eîdos
aspecto
perfil
aspect
of whatever we ourselves are, and as such anyone who looks in the right droite
direita
right
direction direction
direção
dirección
directions
direções
direcciones
, which is within, with a fasting mind esprit
espírito
spirit
mente
mind
manas
mental
, will immediately see that so it must be. Its aspect as a measurement of duration, based on astronomical factors, is artificial and secondary, and can henceforth be neglected, for that is entirely conceptual, as is also what is called ‘psychological’ or personal‘time’, so that we are only concerned here with time as a synonym for duration.

As such it can readily be apprehended as the active counterpart of ‘space Raum
Räumlichkeit
räumlich
espace
espacialité
espaço
espacialidade
espacial
espacio
espacialidad
space
spaciality
spatial
’ which is static, as a measurement thereof, that direction of measurement which measures volume in terms of duration.

As for ‘space’, that also is a concept based on measurement, on measurement in three trinité
trois
triade
ternaire
trindade
três
tríade
ternário
trinity
three
triad
Trimûrti
Trimurti
directions — length, breadth, and height or depth, the three constituting volume. Volume is nothing Nichts
néant
nada
nothing
VOIRE vide
but that, and ‘space’ is nothing but volume. Without volume ‘space’ is a term which can only imply vacuity, but vacuity as such is nothing but potential volume. The term as applied to a concept for that in which volume appears is a synonym for vacuity. Space, then, is also form, and form is nothing but three directions of measurement or volume, and we are incapable of cognising any further directions of measurement than the three which together constitute volume.

Therefore the perceptible universe Univers
Universo
Universe
, as far as we are concerned, is composed of nothing but the concepts which together appear to produce volume, which is space. But in order to perceive them at all, and so in order to perceive anything whatever, they must have duration. We also must have duration in order to perceive them, but what then is duration ? We have just seen that duration is itself the active counterpart of space. Otherwise expressed, duration can be seen as a further spatial measurement, one that as such cannot be spatially interpreted by our senses, but only represented in the form of duration. This also is not original, for the concept of ‘time’ as the ‘fourth dimension of space’ [154] has been played with by advanced physicists for nearly a generation génération
geração
generación
generation
gerar
générer
generate
generar
. Physicists, the very eminent ones at least, have for some time been paddling on the borders of metaphysics Metaphysik
métaphysique
metafísica
metaphysics
, somewhat like children building sand-castles on the shores of the ocean. One day, no doubt, the in-coming tide will overtake them at their play jeu
jogo
juego
play
lila
lîlâ
game
, and they will be carried out to sea, where a few will drown and the others swim back triumphantly on the crest of the waves.

We must now ask ourselves whence come these measurements, the three which create the phenomenal universe which is composed of volume, and the fourth which is interpreted as duration. There can only be one answer, and that one very simple simplicité
simplicidade
spimplicidad
simplicity
simple
simples
and very obvious. They come from the eye that is measuring. That eye is the centre centre
centro
center
of infinity, and infinity being Seiende
Seiendes
Seienden
l'étant
étants
ente
entes
sendo
beings
being
in-finite Endlichkeit
finitude
finitude
finitud
finite
limit
limite
limitação
limitación
limitation
, its centre is everywhere. In short that eye is just ‘I’, wherever, whenever, and whatever such ‘I’ may be.

I think it would be a pity to say any more : to draw conclusions is to force, or seek to force, an exposition down the throats of its hapless readers. What they may perchance seek has been offered, and they should be left gauche
esquerda
izquierda
left
to develop their own understanding Verständnis
compreensão
entendimento
compréhension
entente
comprensión
understanding
of its significance. For such as may seek further indications, and without doing their thinking for them, one might add that the origin of ‘time’ has been brought right home to where it belongs. What then is ‘time’ and, to give it its conceptual totality Ganze
Ganzheit
Ganzsein
Ganzseinkönnen 
le tout
totalité
être-tout
pouvoir-être-tout
intégralité
entièreté
o todo
totalidade
ser-todo
ser-um-todo
nikhila
totality
, ‘space-time’ ? ‘What’ ? No, ‘who’, then, is space-time ? Who, indeed.


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